The remote control is such a convenient innovation. A simple tool that lets you control a device from the comfort of your sofa. However, this ubiquitous gadget has evolved from an IR-based hardware solution to an internet-based software. There are voice assistants, for instance, that provide information and let you control connected devices with simple spoken commands.
Then, there are mobile apps that let you control what you watch on the television, navigate your computer, and even manage your mobile phone. Here are five remote control apps that help you with very specific needs…
Control your PC: Unified Remote
You can use this app to control your Windows, Mac and Linux computer. First, you will need to install Unified Remote (www.unifiedremote.com) on your machine and then install the app on your handset. Make sure that the computer and the device are on the same Wi-Fi network. As soon as the app discovers the computer, you can start controlling it remotely.
Unified Remote comprises various remotes: There is a remote to control the keyboard, one for the mouse, another to browse the PCâ€™s file manager, and even a VLC remote that lets you control video playback on the PC from a distance.
This app supports over 90 programs and gives you access to 14 remotes for free. Subscribe to the full version and you can download over 40 remotes and even create your own to suit your needs.
Androids, iOS | Free
Wireless Mouse: Remote Mouse
This is an alternative to Unified Remote and is very easy to set up and use. It also requires you to install the utility (www.remotemouse.net) on your computer (Windows, Mac or Linux) and then the mobile app. When both are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, follow the instructions to enable the Remote Mouse on the PC. When prompted by Windows Firewall, give the software permission to work on the wireless network.
Launch the app to find and connect to your computer on the network. The phoneâ€™s touchscreen doubles as a touchpad to control the mouse pointer. You can use gestures to click and select; simulate a middle-button click to scroll; open a virtual keyboard to type text, and easily switch between open apps.
Android, iOS | Free
Wi-Fi Remote: CetusPlay
CetusPlay is a multi-purpose Wi-Fi-based remote that can be used to control a smart TV, an Android TV media player and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Like it is with the other apps, you have to ensure that the smartphone and the smart device (TV, media player or media streamer) are on the same Wi-Fi network.
The app comes with multiple navigation modes such as a touchpad, directional touch buttons, and a keyboard-mouse mode in case your TV supports such a pointing device.
CetusPlay also allows you to cast dataâ€”photos, videos and documentsâ€”to a compatible set.
Its built-in internet-browsing features let you push web links to the TV, initiate a quick Google or YouTube search within the remote app and then view the result on the TV.
Android | Free
Universal Remote: AnyMote Universal Remote
AnyMote supports phones with an IR blaster for conventional control of electronic and electrical appliances. But it can also be used to control â€˜smartâ€™ devices that are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. The free version lets you rearrange the controls on the screen according to your preferences; you can create macros to run multiple tasks with a touch of a single button, and access the remote as a floating dock while working in another app.
One drawback is that it has not been updated in over a year, so you may find some new brands or models missing from its database.
Android | Free
Smartphone Control: AirMirror
AirMirror lets you control your smartphone from your computer. Donâ€™t worry, this is a safe process and it takes place over a wired connection with the phone by your side. This functionality allows you to access data and perform tasks on the phone without touching your handset.
One drawback is the set-up is a little tedious. You need to install AirDroid (www.airdroid.com) on your Windows or Mac computer and AirMirror on your handset. Register with the service and follow instructions within the app to enable Developer Options and USB Debugging on the phone.
After you have signed in to both installations, connect the phone to the machine via its USB cable and click on the binocular (AirMirror) icon in AirDroid (on the PC) to connect to your handset.
When the set-up is complete, you will be able to control the smartphone user interface to send messages, launch or uninstall apps and more from your computer. This feature is only supported on Android devices. Though you can use AirMirror on an iPhone to remote control an Android handsetâ€”not vice versaâ€”to provide technical support.
Android | Free